There are some crazy people out there who love running for hours on end. I liked it myself for a while once too. The thing with me is once I get an idea in my head, I kind of go all bat-shit crazy. It’s go big or go home. So first comes all the reading and research – did I mention type A? I buy books, I read them all, I like every running page on Facebook, I pin running tips on Pinterest, learn the lingo, buy the fancy Nike watch and the shoe thingy, download the apps, make the playlists AND sign up for a 1/2 marathon. Oh right, now I have to run. If you’ve met me, you’ll see right away that I do not have the body of a runner. Have you seen my butt? Let’s just say, I’ve got an “athletic” lower half. Not conducive to winning races. That’s the other trouble – no no no… I’m not in it to finish the marathon – I must win it and have a world record. To make a long story short, as much as I tried to be a runner – it just wasn’t me – at least the long distance stuff. Anything more than a 10K and I felt like this…
So, at least I was intelligent enough to not do it for long because I knew that doing so would result in some long term injury and if anything scared me it was the thought of not being able to be active.
I still run – but I don’t run for anymore than 30 minutes. I’m also a fair weather runner – which usually means I do it on the treadmill. My Mom once said to me, “I’m surprised to see you running outside – you’re not really an outside, exercising kind of girl.” I felt kind of insulted – but its a true story.
The thing with cardio is that its a necessary part of fitness. We do it for cardiovascular health. It decreases our resting heart rate over the long term, it decreases our blood pressure, makes everyday activities easier and it can and should be enjoyable. We need to find what is sustainable. That is the key word. When you embark on a new activity, you have to ask yourself if its something you can see yourself doing well into the future. You also must ask yourself if its what is right for YOUR body. If you look at the Olympic athletes who do the marathons – or any marathoner for that matter, they tend to be long and lean. Its like they are built to run. Although, the book, “Born to Run”, convinces us that we are all just that, “Born to Run”. I was convinced. But my body told me otherwise.
Find what you like – LOVE to do. If its hiking, swimming, dancing, or running and it works for you – you’ve struck gold! I am also a firm believer that we must constantly keep our bodies guessing. Our bodies adapt at an amazingly fast rate. We have to continuously challenge ourselves (progressively overload) our bodies so that we don’t hit that dreaded plateau. Ways in which I do this are to add one session of interval training (not recommended for beginners please) per week – I pick the treadmill, the bike, the rower, or the elliptical and I do 10 intervals of hard, all out work with active recovery. Then on other days I will run at a moderate pace for 30 minutes, or do the elliptical. On the weekend if I’m at the lake I’ll go for a hike up to the lighthouse, which is a steep incline and always amazes me how winded I get. Another thing I love to do is set up a “cardio-circuit”. This might be one-minute of skipping, one minute of run-ups on the step, 20 squat jumps, and 25 kettle bell swings – do that circuit five times. Wowzers – that gets you sweating.
So cardio doesn’t have to be that dreaded day in the gym. My take-aways for you are this:
1. Is it SUSTAINABLE – can I see myself do this long-term?
2. Does my body feel GOOD after I’m done, or does it hurt?
3. Am I CHALLENGED? Mix it up – don’t let your body adapt.
4. Do I ENJOY it? It shouldn’t feel like a chore – you should feel great about accomplishing it.